What fuel will ocean-going ships be burning 16 years down the road?

By George Backwell at March 14, 2014 22:23
Filed Under: Fuels & Lubes

Heavy fuel oil will remain the main fuel for deep sea shipping in year 2030 indicates new research from Lloyd’s Register and University College London’s Energy Institute. In a complex study involving many inter-related factors,  ‘Global Marine Fuel Trends 2030’ (GMFT 2030) limits itself to the container ship, bulk carrier/general cargo and tanker (crude & chemical/products) sectors which represent about 70% of the shipping industry’s fuel demand.

VLCC: File photo

Marine fuels considered:
Ranged from liquid fuels used today (HFO, MDO/MGO) to their bio-alternatives (bio-diesel, straight vegetable oil) and from LNG and biogas to methanol and hydrogen (derived both from methane or wood biomass) were included in the study.

Engine technologies
Included were 2 or 4-stroke diesels, diesel-electric, gas engines and fuel cell technology. Since the uptake of certain fuels is influenced by them, a wide range of energy efficiency technologies and abatement solutions (including sulphur scrubbers and Selective Catalytic Reduction for NOx emissions abatement) compatible with the examined ship types were included in the modelling.

Three scenarios applied
Shipping is the enabler of world trade – if world trade grows then so will seaborne tonne miles of cargo. The Global Merchant Trends 2030 report issued last year indicates we can expect strong growth for shipping. With emissions regulations and rising energy costs, shipping decision makers will benefit from a clearer understanding of the potential scenarios for marine fuel demand. These were:

  1. Status Quo – The world will continue its current growth momentum with some booms and busts over the next twenty years.
  2. Global Commons – A shift to concern over resource limitation and environmental degradation will see a desire for a more sustainable world being developed and fairness in wealth distribution. Governments will find common ground and accelerated economic growth, within a framework of sustainable development, which will follow.
  3. Competing Nations – States act in their own national interest. There will be little effort to forge agreement amongst governments for sustainable development and international norms. This is a self-interest and zero-sum world with a likely rise in protectionism and slower economic growth.

Brief conclusions: Fuel mix in 2030

  • Heavy fuel oil (HFO) will still be very much around in 2030, but in different proportions for each scenario: 47% in Status Quo, to a higher 66% in Competing Nations and a 58% share in Global Commons, the most optimistic of scenarios for society. A high share of HFO, of course, means a high uptake of emissions abatement technology when global emissions regulations enter into force.
  • The declining share of HFO will be offset by low sulphur alternatives (MDO/MGO or LSHFO) and by LNG, and this will happen differently for each ship type and scenario. LNG will reach a maximum 11% share by 2030 in Status Quo.
  • Interestingly, there is also the entry of Hydrogen as an emerging shipping fuel in the 2030 Global Commons scenario which favours the uptake of low carbon technologies stimulated by a significant carbon price.


To download a PDF of the report go to www.lr.org/gmft2030, hard copies can be ordered from the Lloyd’s Register Webstore at www.webstore.lr.org


 

 

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